NASCAR star Jeff Burton visited the Speedway for a Daytona Repave update and graded a portion of pit road and buried a time capsule at the start/finish line.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jeff Burton is accustomed to driving down pit road at Daytona International Speedway in his No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet looking for his Richard Childress Racing pit crew for four tires and Sunoco fuel.
On Wednesday, he got a different perspective of pit road from a Caterpillar grader. Burton visited the “World Center of Racing” and graded a portion of pit road, which along with the entire 2.5-mile tri-oval, apron and skid pad, is being repaved for only the second time in track history.
“It’s not hard to just move dirt, but it’s hard to put it where it’s supposed to be,” Burton said of his grading experience.
Burton, along with President Joie Chitwood III, also buried a time capsule and delivered a progress report to the local media on the Daytona Repave project, which began immediately after the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola on Monday, July 5.
Among the items placed in the time capsule were:
• Tickets from 2010 Daytona International Speedway events including the 52nd annual Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, the final race on the old asphalt
• Die-cast cars including Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet that won the Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered By Coca-Cola NASCAR Nationwide Series race and Burton’s No. 31 Caterpillar car
• Newspapers from the Daytona Beach News-Journal including their special Daytona Repave section
• Business card of Lane Construction’s John Rauer, the project manager on the Daytona Repave
• Sprint Blackberry phone
• Press releases, brochures and photos
Burton, whose lone Daytona NASCAR Sprint Cup win came in July 2000, took a tour of the facility before burying the time capsule and grading pit road.
“It’s really cool to be here,” said Burton, who added he would like to come back to Daytona someday to dig up the time capsule. “The history of this race track and the France family actually building this track with their own hands and (now) seeing it reconstructed, it’s pretty cool. This track is going to make racing incredible. What you’re going to see is three wide and two wide all the time.
“The technology in the asphalt and the technology in the grading makes the track so smooth and makes so much grip that you’re not going to be afraid to put it three wide. You’re going to be able to put that car where ever you want to put it.”
Burton knows that a victory in prestigious season-opening Daytona 500 is the ultimate prize in motorsports. But to win the first Daytona 500 on new asphalt only raises the stakes for him.
“There will be a lot of pressure and prestige about winning the first race on the new asphalt because this track is synonymous with NASCAR history,” Burton said. “To be the first one to win at the new Daytona, especially the Daytona 500, is going to mean a great deal.
“You’re going to see a lot of teams working very hard to get what they need to be competitive here. We’re already looking at how do we run here. What do we do different? We were building race cars that were made to handle well and not necessary go as fast as they could go. It was all about making down force and getting through the corners. All of that is out the window now.
“Matter of fact, we had a meeting last week about how to build a car to win the Daytona 500 with this new material. The first race of the Chase hasn’t even started yet and we’re (already) thinking about the Daytona 500. That’s how famous this race is.” About the Daytona Repave:
Lane Construction, which repaved other ISC race tracks including Talladega Superspeedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Richmond International Raceway and Darlington Raceway, will use an estimated 50,000 tons of asphalt to repave more than 1.4 million square feet of Daytona International Speedway and has a target completion date of Jan. 1, 2011.
Speedweeks 2011 will kick off with the 49th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race on Jan. 29-30 and conclude with the 53rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20, the prestigious season-opening event to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Race fans can view the progression of the historic repaving project from a section of the Oldfield Grandstands, which will open free to the public. Track tours will also be available through attraction admission to Daytona 500 Experience.
Daytona International Speedway also is posting updates on the project at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/repave
and on its social sites on Twitter (www.twitter.com/DISUpdates
) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/daytonainternationalspeedway
). For fans interested in purchasing pieces of asphalt, they can visit www.jostens.com/Daytona
For tickets and more information on Daytona International Speedway events, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com
or call 1-800-PITSHOP.